No doubt, it was an emotional week for East Rutherford following the sudden loss of a young life in Matt Lail and the injured C.J. Sappenfield by way of a car crash. Both graduated recently as Cavaliers and played sports during their time at East. Lail played football, while Sappenfield played baseball. The news hit the school even more so since both their mothers work at East.
This subject hits me as well since a friend of mine just after we graduated high school passed away in the same circumstance. I understand what some of you are going through and may God bless all who are hurting and grieving from such a tragedy.
Last Tuesday, East Rutherford (17-10) destroyed Bunker Hill for the second year in a row during the playoffs with a 7-1 victory. East grabbed a 6-0 lead in the first and never looked back against Bunker Hill. Allegedly, Sappenfield and Lail were there for the game, but the next morning East would be devastated by the crash.
With emotions running high and a go home or advance on the line for East Rutherford baseball, they traveled to Vale last Friday. However, the Cavs lost in third round 5-3 to West Lincoln. The Cavs tried to rally late being down 5-1, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
After getting past South Iredell and East Lincoln by one run in each contest, East Rutherford softball (16-6) fell in the third round to Pisgah, 1-0. The Lady Cavaliers, who won the SMAC and dominated most of the opponents they faced have lost two of their six contests by one run this season. Pisgah (18-4), who always has a great softball program should make it the final four of 2A considering how well they have pitched this postseason allowing just four runs in three games.
Recovering from a 1-8 start this season, R-S Central softball (8-13) won six conference games and then shocked Erwin in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, the Lady Hilltoppers couldn’t keep the magic going losing a hard fought road game 3-0 to Foard (now 23-4 and in the Elite Eight). Central kept it scoreless for five innings against Foard, but were unable to score when needed. Pitching by Shelby Smith and Makayla Crain with the bat of Brandy Whitener during the second half of the year turned around a season that looked disastrous at Central.
Unfortunately to conclude the remaining playoff team left from last week, Thomas Jefferson (13-9-1) girls soccer team ended a state playoff run in the third round losing to Hendy, 1-0. Every year they have made it two rounds or more and nearly took home a state title last season.
It’s sad to also see this group go with Victoria Bennett (great defensive player) and Anna Dedmon (over 150 career goals at TJCA and committed to UNC-Charlotte) about to graduate. Six other seniors in Katie Trimble, Caroline Longerbeam, Eleora Albala, Leah Lineberry, Autumn Ruppe and Kelsey Smith will leave TJCA as members the winningest sports team in school history at 62-17-4 overall in four years. I enjoyed watching them play as many teams in the state have the respect of Gryphons soccer, thanks to these ladies who have shown the way along with Coach Brian Espinoza.
It’s the biggest race weekend in United States as the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 crank up this Sunday. Ed Carpenter won the pole for the 500, but can Dario Franchiti win the race for the fourth time in his career. Only three drivers have done that before. Will it be Marco Andretti, who starts third to finally break the streak as an Andretti hasn’t won at Indy since 1969.
Meanwhile Kasey Kahne has won three of the last seven 600-mile events. Only Darrell Waltrip (5) has won the event more than three times.
I have a feeling it’s going to be Clint Bowyer who wins the 600 this year, but Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth should also play a role in deciding this one.